Public transportation

Posing As a Metro Rider on Twitter, D.C. Transit Union Attacks Critics As Paid Plants

The union's sock-puppet account was discovered yesterday and has since been deleted.



The union representing workers for Washington, D.C.'s notoriously dangerous and dysfunctional Metro rail system seems to have been running a Twitter account that purported to express the views of an ordinary, Metro-loving rider.

For months now, @DCMetroTruth has claimed to be a Washington-area commuter telling just the facts about the Metro's performance while waging vicious battles with Twitter critics of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA), which operates the Metro, and its unionized work force, represented by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689.

On multiple occasions @DCMetroTruth accused critics of the Metro, including stalwart watchdogs like @unsuckdcmetro and @DCmetroll, of lying about Metro conditions and serving as paid plants of contractors who want to privatize the transit system.

Such was the case yesterday, when, during a particularly nasty Twitter fight, one user flipped the tables on @DCMetroTruth and asked who was funding that account. Tellingly, the response came not from @DCMetroTruth but from the official ATU Local 689 account, which declared, "I am a rider here to spread the TRUTH. No one has to pay me to do that!"

That message was immediately followed by accusations that @DCMetroTruth had revealed its true nature as a union front. @DCMetroTruth tried to defend the union as trolling the trolls with its response, but no one was buying it. @DCMetroTruth has since been deleted, although screen shots of the fight can be still be found.

The incident is a sad and petty reminder that the Metro's union exists not to serve riders or offer quality service but rather to deflect criticism from its members, regardless of how legitimate or accurate that criticism is. Last year, for instance, ATU Local 689 successfully sued for the reinstatement of a maintenance worker who had been fired for falsifying records about tunnel fans that malfunctioned during a deadly smoke inhalation incident.

With its apparent sock puppet gone, ATU Local 689 will have to use its official account to tweet support of tax increases for the Metro and condemnations of WMATA's private contracting.